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The biggest telecom operator in Nigeria, MTN and Ecobank have agreed to synergise, to grow financial inclusion in Africa and restore banking services to the unbanked.

Both firms will “leverage each other’s assets that will ultimately offer more value to their respective customers across the continent,” they said in a statement.

MTN’s large subscriber base, comprehensive distribution, innovative digital products and drive for mobile financial services are being linked with Ecobank’s trail-blazing digital banking products to provide instant bank accounts and remittances through Africa’s largest bank by network”.

MTN’s Group CEO, Rob Shuter believes partnerships between banks and mobile money operators are ”fundamental in the mobile money ecosystem, hence our long-standing partnership with Ecobank in many of our markets aimed at driving financial inclusion

This partnership will allow Ecobank and MTN Mobile Money customers to transfer money between their mobile money wallets and bank accounts.

Both firms will “digitise international remittance, foster product innovation in the field of mobile saving and lending, and offer digital payment solutions to consumers, merchants and corporates”.

Ecobank Group CEO Ade Ayeyemi said: “The changing landscape of digital banking and mobile telephony is creating unique opportunities in the way and manner customers are served.

Africa will need to digitise financial services to rapidly scale up client acquisition and patronage. MTN and Ecobank are taking the big step today at this grand event to support this agenda”.

He added that “Ecobank’s digital strategy has long been committed to ensuring transaction convenience for the market.

We have made giant strides in our mission to ensure financial inclusion and today’s agreement with MTN will greatly accelerate the easy availability of banking services to the previously unbanked”.

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